Photo by Peter Huynh of Bren Communications
(Design, Art, and Technology Makerspace)
2011 - 2013
I co-founded a student organization that holds fun & eclectic workshops to introduce the UCI community to Maker culture and help them develop hands-on skills. The mission of DATspace is to lower the barrier for students to advance in their creative projects and to drive them to innovate. My intention with DATspace was to get my fellow UCI students to be more creative and expressive with technology.
Check out our website, photos, and videos for workshops and events that we’ve held.
I am the Project Manager for DATspace; my responsibility is to schedule officer meetings and to keep track of the work that went into each workshop. During these officer meetings, I would lead the process of taking a workshop idea and breaking it down into workable tasks (“write the tutorial,” “secure funding,” “reserve room,” etc). These tasks would then be delegated to the officer who was most capable in doing them. Pretty much, I was an event planner with extras. Of course, there were other projects and administrative matters the DATspace officers worked on such as inventory and fundraisers.
The most taxing work I did for DATspace was the effort I put into community building. For me, community building was simply pursuing any opportunity that allowed me to speak with someone or a group of people about DATspace. This will entail keeping track of contacts and directly inviting them to our Tuesday meetups. Getting in touch with other student organizations such as ACM or WICS or DIY in order to hold joint events that would combine our audiences. I’d present DATspace’s background and workshops to professors during research program and faculty meetings. One time, because of my contact with Prof. Christopher Dobrian, lecturer John Crooks invited me to his class to talk about DATspace. To gain new members, I would introduce DATspace at an orientation event for incoming ICS freshmen. Recently, my connection with the Beall center provided me the opportunity to talk with Dale Dougherty of Make Magazine during an event that they held for the local OC makers.
Because of these social efforts, my advisor Dr. Garnet Hertz jokingly called me the “cult leader” of DATspace. Not only does this community building effort help grow an audience, but also creates opportunities for DATspace. Opportunities such as holding workshops for the OC Mini-Maker Faire, receiving funding from Calit2, finding workshop teachers, or finding better venues like the IEEE lab. You can’t plan these opportunities, you can only build them up by actively networking, meeting, and staying in touch with others.
I independently produced several videos that related to DATspace:
My friend Nic and I were always interested in working on creative projects that involved technology, but we didn’t have a shop on campus where we could hang out and have the tools & materials ready for us to use. Inspired by NYC Resistor, we planned to create our own hackerspace. In fact, we wanted our hackerspace to be an Irvine chapter of NYC Resistor, but the name “Irvine Resistors” seemed to be a possible trademark violation of both the Irvine Company and NYC Resistor. We decided on the name Nixipi Labs, a portmanteau of the two geekiest words we could think of.
To get the idea rolling, we met with Professor Don Patterson, the director of LUCI lab. He advised us to work with him and Dr. Hertz to apply for a grant from the Multidisciplinary Design Program (MDP). The grant allowed us to purchase supplies and have new officers join us: Ivan Check, Rachel Rose Ulgado, and Kimi Wakamoto. Up to now we’ve applied for and received MDP funding three times.
Even with the funding and the small room that LUCI provided us, we attempted multiple times to set up our own Makerspace on campus, but failed. We were getting ahead of ourselves since we didn’t establish the community that would use a shared workspace. Therefore, we focused on workshops to keep an active community. However, given our limited time as students, workshops were all we could focus on.
In hindsight, Nic and I should have started an art+tech collective, tagged along more members, and started a hackerspace (if the need demanded it). Another problem with how I ran DATspace was assigning too much busy work. No one is being paid. The club experience is purely social and I should have treated it that way. In fact, I better understood this from my efforts of directly inviting my friends to our Tuesday meetups. In any case, the turn of events lead us to create, what was essentially, an event committee. As a committee, the events we planned at UCI were unique: they were hands-on, helped build skills, and encouraged students to play/create/express.
I also learned a great deal about what it takes to run an organization. I feel these new found skills are still in their infancy. I would like to develop these skills outside of the grind that is the undergraduate experience.
All in all, given our limitation, the DATspace team contributed something wonderful to UCI.